Thoughts on the Victorians and the “media culture” it created, with remarks about some of its effects

Here’s a thought I had:

It seems, to me, that what is often called Victorian is really an image created by media.  And so anything Victorian is more a reference to a media-based image than a society, culture, or time.  As a result of this, the media is largely responsible for creating the image of the Victorianism and Victorian times.  When we think of “Victorian” we are thinking of the image the media created.  Because of this media-based image, an image of the Victorians has been created that is somewhat distorted often making it hard to unravel who and what the Victorians were.  It also gives an image of the Victorians as specifically being “this way” or “that way” which is not necessarily true and has given many false views of who they were.  This is not surprising as this is the time when the media began.

Looking at it closer it is apparent that the influence of the media, in the 1800’s, affected things a number of ways:

  • The image of the society, particularly on reflection
  • How people viewed themselves
  • How people behaved, thought, and acted

What we see, then, is that the media-based image can literally transform a society, from the peoples behavior to how they are remembered. This shows the power of the “media image”.  It seems, to me, that the media-based image is very powerful in society and can have as much impact on a society as a war or economic ruin.

The greatest and most developed form of media began in the 1800’s and continues to this day.  It is so powerful that it became like an on onslaught that greatly affected society.

THE “MEDIA ONSLAUGHT” OF THE 1800’S

Perhaps we could call the 1800’s the beginning of the “media onslaught” that would dominate things ever since.

The Media Condition

The media, as I use it here, consists of a lot more than what is often considered media.  I tend to view it not as a thing, like “the news”, but a condition that is the result of many qualities such as:

  • Various means of the easy transfer of information – newspapers, magazine, novels, education, knowledge, etc. . . . this is what is generally described as the “media”
  • A specific environment – a sense of unity, a crisis, a conflict, a similarity, etc.
  • A receptiveness in the population – blindly believing, following, etc.

These show that we are looking at a social/psychological phenomena.  Keep in mind that this is not referring to the actual “media”, which primarily consists of the means of easy transfer of information.  I am speaking of a condition that is largely a response, or reaction, to the conditions that the actual “media” creates.  We could call this the “media condition” or “media phenomena”.   

The overall effect of the media condition is that it creates a condition where people are all-too-easily “influenced”, sometimes to the point of being controlled and even to the point of losing a sense of individual self. Basically, what the actual “media” creates becomes a controlling element. 

In the 1800’s there were many things that promoted this condition to grow:

  • There became a prevalence of newspapers, magazines, consumerism, and such on a scale never before seen
  • There was an increase in education
  • There became more knowledge
  • There was great conflict, such as by poverty
  • There was a sense of unity, often as a result of conflict
  • There was a disillusionment, belief deteriorated, and people became lost, making people receptive to what the media produced
  • People wanted to believe in something
  • People wanted to be like the aristocracy . . . sophisticated, upper class, and successful . . . making people aspire for something new

All these helped to make the 1800’s a time for great growth in the media condition.

Effects of the Media Condition

We must remember that the media that appeared in the 1800’s was largely new and, in this way, the reaction was also new at this time.  As a result, it caused a number of effects, such as:

  • A sense of novelty and “newness”
  • Catering to the media caused an experience that was experienced by many people around you
  • It created a sense of unity and belonging in the people as everyone was exposed to it
  • It occupied a person and gave a person something to do . . . almost a hobby for some people

In many ways, the “media onslaught” made life more interesting and, as a result, it as if drew people into it like a vacuum.  Perhaps we could this the “media suction”?

THE “MEDIA CULTURE”

Basically, the “media suction” created a new condition and a new reality.  In this way, it created a whole new culture . . . the “media culture”.  One could also call it “popular culture”.  Overall, one could say that Victorian society is really a “media culture”.

The nature of the media condition, particularly as it began to grow in the 1800’s, made it so that it encompassed almost every facet of life, in one way or another.  This includes things such as:

  • Morality
  • Codes of behavior
  • Etiquette
  • Fashion and dress
  • Knowledge
  • Education

Almost every aspect of life was pulled in by the “media suction”.  This would greatly affect Victorian society.  Because everything was pulled into by the “media suction” much of society would become associated with various issues that it created . . .

Issues

The nature, and power, of the “media suction” caused some “issues”, that could become a problem, such as:

  • A slavishness and an addiction to it
  • A predisposition to social hysteria
  • A persistence of common and familiar themes
  • A false sense of unity, giving a sense of a society and culture that doesn’t necessarily exist

These “issues” would define much of Victorian society and would continue on into the “media culture” to this day and are prevalent themes.  In many ways, these “issues” created a neurotic-like society and would even establish a number of mental problems and behavior (see below).

CONTINUING THE THEMES OF ITS ORIGINS – THE “MEDIA INTERPRETATION”

The nature and character of the “media culture” was naturally affected by the conditions of the times when it was created:  the 1800’s.  They have instilled specific themes that keep appearing over and over again in the “media culture”.  Its almost as if the “media culture” is stuck in the 1800’s.  In this sense, we could speak of the “media culture” as something that has continued many mentalities, originating from the 1800’s, down through the years and have kept us, in a sense, stuck in the past.

Some of the themes that have originated in the 1800’s and that are still seen in the “media culture”, include:

  • The theme of freedom
  • The condemnation of authority
  • Catering to conflict and “difficult issues”
  • Poverty and its effects as well as emphasis on the misery of life
  • Cheap and easy ways to resolve the misery of life
  • The emphasis on knowledge and education
  • Industrialization, modernization, and technology
  • The idea that the world has to be changed
  • The theme of “being sophisticated”, as well as a snobbery

These are all themes that originated in the 1800’s and reflect the conditions of those times.  In actuality, they do not reflect current times but the “media culture” keeps using these as a basis to interpret things.  As a result, they keep these themes alive causing a bias in the interpretation of the world.  This bias has created a specific type of interpretation of things, the “media interpretation”.  They tend to interpret everything in the context of the themes described above even though the themes may have no legitimacy or relevance to the current times.  This is one reason why the media tends to give a distorted interpretation of things.

“MEDIA ADDICTION” – A PEOPLE ENSLAVED

The “media suction” is so powerful that it pulls people into it involuntarily.  People are compelled to follow it.  This creates something like an addiction . . . they must follow the media and have no choice in it.  This is the “media addiction”.  This causes a number of qualities:

  • They are not aware of it
  • They are compelled to follow it
  • They cannot fight it
  • They need it
  • They are controlled by it

As with many addictions people find themselves addicted but aren’t aware of it.  It controls and dominates them.  The net result is a slavishness toward it.

In Victorian times this addiction created qualities such as:

  • They need to follow popular society
  • They need to follow moral codes
  • They need to follow proper behavior and etiquette
  • They need to follow social expectations
  • They need to follow trends 
  • They need to follow fashion

In short, people “need to follow” the social image that the media condition created.  People created a life “needing” to do follow this.  In many ways, this “needing to follow” . . . a manifestation of “media addiction” . . . was a hallmark trait of Victorian times.  Its was so strong that not “following” could cause many problems like mental illness and blind rebellion (see below).  These were quite prevalent during Victorian times which shows how prevalent the addiction was.

There are a number of reasons why they could not “follow”, such as:

  • They are unable to follow it for some reason, such as they don’t have the right body, not enough money, or the right character
  • The strain of following became too much
  • They felt at odds with it

THE “PUPPET”

The power of the “media suction” has created a new form of character that is, in a way, the great addict of “media culture”:  the “puppet”.  This is a person who is completely controlled by the “media culture”, believing and doing whatever it says.  That it to say, the media is their “puppet master”.  They let it control how they think, what they wear, how they behave, etc.

For the “puppet” the “media culture” replaces things like:

  • Religion
  • Tradition
  • Belief
  • Identity
  • Individuality

In this way, the “puppet” creates a way of life, and persona, based in the “media culture”.  They “lose themselves” in the “media culture”, they cease to be a person, and cease to be an individual.  In this way, the “puppet” ceases to be a human being in extreme cases.

The “puppet” phenomena has created many mental problems and a whole new set of personal crisis.  One group of people seem to particularly be affected are . . .

The “Female Puppet”

Females are particularly drawn into the “media suction” to the point that they are completely dominated by it.  This is the “female puppet”.  This “female puppet” has become so powerful and prevalent that its actually undermining the female.  Basically, life, for  the “female puppet”, is solely and absolutely based in being a puppet to the “media culture”.  It dominates their lives and has complete control.

Many “female puppet” become controlled by things like:

  • Social ideals
  • Trends
  • Mannerisms
  • Specific points of views and ways of looking at things
  • Specific types of behavior

Basically, the “female puppet” patterns herself , and her identity, off of what the “media culture” produces.  For many “puppet females” this new “media culture” identity has completely replaced the female identity.  In so doing, it has destroyed it.  From my observation, this fact is the great dilemma of females nowadays.

Many “female puppets” have completely lost things like:

  • A sense of what a female is
  • A sense of dignity, as a person and as a female
  • Who they are
  • A sense of individuality

Their whole life is based in being a puppet to “media culture” and mindlessly following what it says.  In the most extreme cases, they have no sense that they are even an individual person.

What all this shows is that the “media culture” has had great and negative impact on the female.

REPRESSION/NEUROSIS

The demands of the “media culture” can be so great that it can strangle a person.  It can create a condition where a person is as if squashed by it.  This can be called a “repression”.  Some ways this happens include:

  • Restriction – a person is only allowed to do certain things
  • Inhibition – a person is not allowed to do something
  • Forcing – a person is pushed in specific directions

These have created many problems in Victorian times.  Generally, they are described as “neurosis” which are a hallmark trait of Victorianism.

Its like a pattern is created by the “media culture” that Victorianism created:

  1. Media onslaught
  2. Media suction
  3. Media image
  4. Repression/neurosis

The repression/neurosis is created because people are trying to fit the media image because they have been sucked into the media by the great onslaught of the media.  Basically, the image created is so powerful that people are killing themselves forcing themselves into the mold.  Since they cannot fit the image they end up developing mental illness.

CHARACTER DISORDERS

It seems, to me, that repression/neurosis was prevalent until about the 1970’s plus or minus.  After that time we start seeing something new develop:  growth problems.  This ends up creating problems with a persons overall character.  It therefore creates “character disorders”.  This has been prevalent ever since and has replaced repression/neurosis.

The big difference from the previous era, it seems to me, is that character disorders seems a reaction to a new form of media:  television.  The people who displayed the character disorders were the generation who were brought up watching television and, accordingly, became adolescent beginning in the late 1960’s.  As time went on, it got more prevalent in the 1970’s.  The older generation, who were not brought up watching television, tended to maintain the repression/neurosis problem.  The younger generations, of course, developed character disorders.  It seems, to me, that the computer, internet, and social media has only caused a more intense version of character disorders in the more recent generations.

This fact shows how much an impact a new form of media can have.  In this case, it changed mental problems!

BLIND REBELLION

The “media suction” is so strong that people are pulled into it and controlled by it.  They start to feel things such as:

  • That they are controlled
  • That they are forced to do things
  • That a great weight is upon their shoulders
  • That something is bearing down on them

These feelings can become so extensive that it can create mental illness, as described above.  But it can go in another path as well.  It can create is a tendency to blind rebellion against society which is quite common in Victorian society and the modern world it created.  Generally, in this blind rebellion they view themselves as “controlled by something unwillingly”.  What is actually happening, though, is that people are rebelling against something that they enslaved themselves with . . . the media . . . and their need to follow what it says.  In other words, people are fighting their own addiction to the “media addiction”.

Because the Victorian era follows the French Revolution, which emphasized “freedom from oppression”, the “being enslaved by media” would often be turned into a freedom issue, as if they are now fighting for their freedom against a threat . . . a threat they enslaved themselves with!  As a result, there develops a unique hypocritical attitude that follows a pattern much like:

  1. The “media onslaught” appears
  2. People are pulled in and enslaved by the “media vacuum”
  3. They feel its constriction and enslavement
  4. Following the example of the French Revolution, they view themselves as fighting for freedom against some oppression which they believe has caused this constriction and enslavement

In this way, people are as if “trying to liberate themselves from themselves”.  This is one reason why many claims of freedom, oppression, and such are empty.  Its a people enslaved by themselves.

EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE AS MEDIA

A significant aspect of the Victorian “media culture” is education and the transmission of knowledge.  This is just another form of media.  As a result, it has played a part in many of the issues, mental illness, and rebellion in Victorian society.  In reality, there is not a lot of difference between following “proper codes of behavior”, which was so important during Victorian times, and following the “patterns of thought that education taught”.  Just from my experience, and observation, its quite clear that education and knowledge has created the same effects, problems, demands, expectations, and dilemma’s that the “media addiction” has created.  People have becomes enslaved by it, controlled by it, and puppets to it.

AFTERTHOUGHT

What we see, then, is that the creation of the media during Victorian times has had tremendous impact on the image of those times.  In addition, it has had tremendous on society and people ever since, even causing various forms of mental problems.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Culture, cultural loneliness, etc., England, Britain, and all that, Historical stuff, Mass communication: media, social media, and the news, Mass hysteria, mass society, and the mob, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Society and sociology, Victorianism, Bourgeoisie, noble imitation, and sycophancy and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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